September 30, 2015

A Clarification of My Position on Immigration

David Friedman writes, "Many libertarians who favor free immigration in principle have serious reservations about its implications in practice." [1]

You can count me among those libertarians.

Although I strongly believe that people ought to be able to travel, work, and live wherever they like (imaginary lines in the sand notwithstanding), I'm aware that there are potential problems with an open border policy.

I'm still studying the issue.

1. David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism (Chu Hartley, 2014), kindle location 5337.

September 29, 2015

What If Ron Paul Was Chairman of the Federal Reserve?

Former congressman Ron Paul was recently interviewed (link) about the Federal Reserve's announcement that interest rates will remain near zero.

Paul, a longtime critic of the Fed, explained that the real problem isn't that the Fed makes bad decisions. The real problem is that, when it comes to centrally planning an economy, there are no good decisions.

The whole enterprise of central planning is misguided because there is no correct interest rate (or price or wage) other than the one that naturally arises in a free market. But a planned economy is not a free market. Any attempt to set interest rates (or price ceilings or minimum wages) will necessarily be arbitrary.

The interviewer then asked Dr. Paul what he would do instead if he was the one setting interest rates.

Asking Ron Paul to plan the economy is a bit like asking a vegan whether he wants chicken or fish for dinner.

What the interviewer seems to have missed is this: Paul's point isn't that the Fed made a bad decision in this one instance but that there is no right Fed decision.

September 28, 2015

The Teflon Candidate

Try as they might, the talking heads in the mainstream media can't seem to take Donald Trump down (link, link). Nothing sticks to him. Accusations that would sink any other presidential hopeful roll right off his back. What accounts for this phenomena?

I think it has something to do with the fact that Trump is perceived as a celebrity rather than a politician. Scandals that would destroy most any politician are commonplace among the Hollywood elite. Take Tom Cruise for example. Despite the fact that he's a raving lunatic, Cruise stars in a new blockbuster every year. If he were a politician, do you think he'd still be in office? That's doubtful. The American public holds entertainers to a much lower standard. Say what you will about Trump, but he's definitely an entertainer, and he's using his celebrity status to great advantage.

September 25, 2015

John Piper's Doctrine of Justification

Thomas Schreiner's new book (Faith Alone - The Doctrine of Justification: What the Reformers Taught . . . and Why It Still Matters) has caused a bit of a stir. Not because of anything Schreiner wrote. No, it's John Piper's foreword (specifically his comments on justification and works) that sparked the controversy.

The foreword can be found at this link.

Criticisms of Piper can be found at the following links:
A defense of Piper is available here: In Defense of Piper

September 24, 2015

Various and Sundry

  • It's the end of the world as we know it . . . Oh, wait. No, it isn't (link). 
  • I can't think of any reason why the government would want to know the traveling patterns/habits of its citizens. Can you? (link
  • Despite all his downsides, I can't help but like Donald Trump when he says stuff like this and this (I'm also fully aware that Trump seems to be saying whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear).
  • At the recent debate, the GOP candidates seemed to be trying to outdo one another in their support for Israel (link). In actuality, they were competing for Sheldon Adelson's money (link), a competition which Marco Rubio won, apparently (link). I sure hope he doesn't screw it up by hanging out with some guy who collects Nazi memorabilia (link). 
  • Carly Fiorina's recent rise has many Evangelicals once again concerned over whether or not it's appropriate to vote for a woman for president. To them I say, "There are plenty of good reasons not to vote for her that have nothing to do with her gender" (link, link, link, link, link, link, link).
  • The above may be moot, as it seems Rubio and Fiorina aren't running for president so much as they are running for spots in the Bush administration. Haven't you been wondering why so many candidates with no real chance of winning are even bothering to run? This article may provide the answer. 
  • Here's a helpful reminder from Joel McDurmon: "We focus way too much time, energy, and resources on national politics as the solution to our social ills. We need instead to focus upon restoring power and authority to local governments" (link).
  • Doug Wilson encourages us to recover religious liberty "without permission" (link). Wilson: "When the Christian movement first began, it was routinely illegal. The early Christians thought that this was too bad, and kept right on going."
  • I enjoyed this recent article on capitalism from Kevin DeYoung. I do have one quibble, however. I disagree with DeYoung when he claims that Christianity does not require capitalism. While it's true that the Bible does not teach capitalism per se, the ethical imperatives of Scripture (e.g. Exodus 20:15) rule out the alternatives (because any alternative to a free market involves theft and extortion).
  • While we're on the subject, capitalism is not the cause of rising healthcare costs. You have government intervention to thank for that (link).

September 23, 2015

Technical Difficulties

Depending on your browser, you may have noticed that the blog is currently experiencing some technical difficulties. It seems that, at some point yesterday, all the items in the right column spontaneously shifted to the bottom of the page. 

So far my efforts to alleviate the problem have been in vain. However, I hope to have everything back to normal by the end of the week.

Recommended Resource: Bernie Sanders Is Wrong by Tom Woods

Check out the new ebook from Tom Woods. It's called Bernie Sanders Is Wrong, and it's available here for free. 

September 22, 2015

Southern Baptists and Political Action

I recently found myself explaining, once again, my opposition to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. I've covered this ground in a previous post, but I think it may be helpful to elaborate a bit.

September 21, 2015

I'm So Conservative That I'm a Radical

Mainstream conservatives are usually busy fighting a losing battle to undo a few recent progressive, big-government programs. They want to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a slightly less objectionable form of government intervention into the healthcare market. They want to reign in the IRS, perhaps institute a flat tax. Basically, they want big government, just not quite that big.

When you start talking about drastically reducing the size of government, then you're a radical. Close the Fed. Open the Borders. End the Drug War. No more welfare (including corporate bailouts, farm subsidies, social security, and all refundable tax credits). End all foreign aid. Close all foreign military bases. Repeal the income tax. End occupational licensing. Shut down the EPA, FDA, NSA, etc. These positions are all considered beyond the pale in contemporary political discourse.

What most don't realize is this: implementing all these so-called radical ideas would simply turn the clock back. We're not talking about anarchy here. We're talking about reducing the federal government to the size it was around 1900. We're talking about bringing back the real America. You know, the land of the free. America as it was before big-government progressives like Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR* turned the American republic into the American empire. What's so radical about that?

*All of the following either began or dramatically escalated under the watch of one of these three:
  • imperialistic foreign policy
  • the creation of the Federal Reserve
  • crony capitalism
  • price controls
  • the income tax
  • the creation of the welfare state
  • the passage of the Espionage act
  • unnecessary entry into World War I

September 18, 2015

I Love Tim Keller Despite the Fact That He Is Terribly Wrong On Occasion

I was going to write a post critiquing Tim Keller's political/economic views, but, after reading this, I don't think I need to. 

Tim Keller is a great preacher who has written some helpful books, but I wish he'd keep all the Marxist nonsense to himself. I guess it's not reasonable to expect a pastor to understand economics when most mainstream economists are clueless (I'm looking at you, Paul Krugman).

Here are two books that I wish Tim Keller (and other church leaders) would read:
  • Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
  • The Law by Frederick Bastiat
These two short books provide an answer to all the statist/socialist nonsense that seems to be endemic among the Evangelical power elite. Hazlitt would help Keller and the other Social Justice warriors understand that the policies they advocate are ineffective. Bastiat would help them realize that those same policies are also immoral (regardless of their effectiveness or lack thereof).

September 17, 2015

Various and Sundry

  • Gary DeMar points out some problems with public schooling (link). 
  • The Pope is wrong about so many things. Add fossil fuels to the list (link). 
  • Laurence Vance finds some interesting evidence that the U. S. is actually a totalitarian dictatorship (link).
  • If the so-called conservatives in the GOP really want smaller government and less spending, then why aren't they calling for the complete de-funding of NASA, which is nothing more than a government make-work program? (link)
  • Immigration is not the problem. The welfare state is (link). 
  • Your share of the pie may be smaller, but does it really matter if the pie itself is bigger? (link
  • Transhumanists want immortality for themselves and . . . death for the rest of us? (link)
  • The case for cessationism (link)
  • Calvinism vs. Reformed Molinism debate (link
  • Rand Paul seems to have squandered most of his political capital (link). 
  • A little over a month ago I predicted Marco Rubio would be the eventual Republican candidate. It's still early, but it seems I was almost certainly wrong (link). 
  • I've been predicting Joe Biden as the eventual Democratic nominee for weeks now. I feel more confident about that one. We'll see.
  • King Kong vs. Godzilla?! KING. KONG. VERSUS. GODZILLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (link)
  • James Bond is a socialist?! (link)
  • More demagoguing and warmongering from Ted Cruz (link).
  • Are GCHQ really trying to help Brits keep their data secure? Or are they trying to make it easier to spy on them? (link)
  • I realize that the amount of political content on the blog has increased over the last two months or so. I write about what interests me. I have a variety of interests. Lately I've had politics on my mind. This may continue for a while. Or it may change tomorrow. I write mainly for my own amusement, so I make no apologies one way or the other.

September 16, 2015

Rule of Law? You Must Be Joking

The recent Kim Davis debacle has those on the right and the left talking about the rule of law.

What a joke. 

America is a nation of rampant lawlessness.

In his recent book, Charles Murray writes "about the legal system not as it looks from thirty thousand feet to law professors, where everything can be fit together and rationalized, but how it looks at ground level to ordinary law-abiding citizens." [1] The legal system in the U. S., when viewed from this perspective, is indistinguishable from lawlessness.

Murray points out seven manifestations of lawlessness:
  • When the legal process is more costly than you can afford, it is indistinguishable from lawlessness.
  • Criminal law that is sufficiently removed from the concept of mens rea [criminal intent] is indistinguishable from lawlessness.
  • Civil law that is sufficiently arbitary and capricious is indistinguishable from lawlessness.
  • Law that is sufficiently complex is indistinguishable from lawlessness.
  • Law that is sufficiently subjective is indistinguishable from lawlessness.
  • Law that is sufficiently discretionary is indistinguishable from lawlessness.
  • Law that permits the state to take private property without compensation, or to force the transfer of private property to other private individuals, is indistinguishable from lawlessness. [2]
The American legal system is contradictory, arbitrary, and tyrannical. Whistle-blowers who expose criminality are charged under the espionage act while criminals like Hilary Clinton and Dick Cheney walk free. Does that sound like the rule of law to you? The highest law in this land is the constitution, yet it is flagrantly violated by both political parties and all three branches of government. We are not ruled by law in this country. We are ruled by men.

Still don't buy it? Then ask yourself, When was the last time you saw a cop get pulled over for speeding? 

1. Murray, Charles. By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission (Crown Forum, 2015), p. 32.
2. ibid, pp. 32-48.

September 15, 2015

The Apocalypse That Wasn't

As a child, I was indoctrinated into two completely different ideologies of impending doom. One was taught in public school. The other in Sunday school.

The first apocalyptic scenario was that of catastrophic, man-made global warming. It was taught in the classroom and reinforced by cartoons like FernGully and Captain Planet.

The second doomsday scenario was the Left Behind brand of pop-Dispensationalism. I learned it in youth group and VBS. It was reinforced by movies like The Omega Code and, of course, Left Behind.

Since California is still above water and Christ hasn't yet raptured his church, it seems both of these doomsday scenarios have been dis-proven (at least in the popular form in which I learned them).

September 14, 2015

Sometimes I Change My Mind

I'm curious. I like to learn. So I read a lot. And in my reading, I often come across new information. Sometimes that information makes me rethink old positions.

Looking back on what I've written here over the last three years or so, I'm pleased with most of it. Some of it . . . not so much.

I may eventually rewrite or even delete a few old posts, but, for now, I'll just say this: Sometimes I change my mind.

September 10, 2015

Various and Sundry

  • Now that election season is ramping up, it seems pertinent to remind everyone that your vote doesn't count. Seriously. Voting in a national election is a complete waste of time (link).
  • To those who say, "If you don't vote, you can't complain."  I say, "Au contraire. It's you voters who have no right to complain." (link)
  • I'll probably vote anyway. Just to show some solidarity with a third-party candidate (link).
  • Carly Fiorina is no political outsider. While CEO of HP she colluded with the NSA (link). She's been hovering around the edges of the neocon establishment for years.
  • Apparently, Donald Trump is clueless about foreign policy (link). I'm not sure if that makes him better or worse than the other GOP candidates. They know a bit about foreign policy. The problem is so much of what they know is wrong. 
  • It seems Dispensationalism is at least partly to blame for the IMB's fiscal irresponsibility (link).
  • They don't hate us for our freedom. They hate us because our government is constantly sticking its nose in their business (link). 
  • In the battle of Trump vs. Carson (link, link), I'm hoping for mutually assured destruction. Though, I'll admit I'm starting to see Carson as the lesser of these two evils.
  • Don't get me wrong. Carson seems like a nice guy, and I don't necessarily doubt his Christian profession (despite the fact that he's a member of the heterodox SDA sect). It's just that I don't think he understands the proper application of Christian ethics in the public square. If he did, he'd be a Reformed Libertarian like yours truly. 
  • While I'm at it, the above goes for Mike Huckabee as well. Seems like a nice guy. Don't doubt that he's a believer. Terribly misunderstands the proper application of Christian ethics to political and social issues (hint: Matthew 7:12). Also, he may be the biggest fascist (link) in the GOP primary race.
  • I thank you, God, that I am not like BuzzFeed. Oh, wait. . . (link)
  • Not everyone who holds to a theologically conservative position on gender roles is necessarily a complementarian (link). 
  • Does anyone else really miss Lost? I know it kinda fell apart in the last couple of seasons, but it was good TV.

September 09, 2015

Trump vs. the Establishment

Presidential elections in America tend to offer voters two choices: Evil and Lesser Evil. Establishment-approved candidate #1 and establishment-approved candidate #2. This partly explains Donald Trump's current popularity. He is a political outsider who thumbs his nose at the establishment at every opportunity (well, almost every opportunity, see here).

How did we get here? How did we get to the point where the American public is so fed up with the establishment that they will accept virtually any alternative? And, of course, this question prompts another question:  Who exactly is this establishment and how did they come to power?

C. Jay Engel (following Murray Rothbard, Carroll Quigley, and Carl Oglesby) explains the rise of the U. S. political power elite:
. . . the roots of this order took place with the Fabian socialists in England. . . . the Fabian circles began to work in unison with the secret societies funded and maintained by John Ruskin’s student Cecil Rhodes, whose gigantic diamond-sourced wealth allowed him to have an impactful influence in British politics.  In describing the influence on the American power elite from the other side of the Atlantic, Rothbard pointed out that Cecil Rhodes had in mind a British re-incorporation with the United States.  And thus, Rhodes took his magnificent riches and funded all sorts of powerful international “groups” and organizations that provided “expertise” on all matters foreign policy and banking and “public policy.”  These groups, labelled by Cecil Rhodes as Round Table Groups included the British versions (Royal Institute of International Affairs) and the American versions as well (Council on Foreign Relations).  But they largely reflected the same worldview and the same power elite. . . . Internationalist and globalist political organizations that were established during World War One (such as the League of Nations) and World War Two (the United Nations) were led by power-persons from these groups, who were leaders and members of various commercial banks, central banks, industrial leaders, and so forth.  These were formulated to provide the necessary resources for more of a “one world government” model, led by the international socialists.  They never fully accomplished their goal as quickly as they hoped to following the end of World War Two.  For the British Empire could not survive the financial and monetary damage that it had hoisted on itself in its shenanigans during world war two.  It was actually the American elite who were left standing after Britain’s collapse as the sole influence in the Western world.  Of course, it tried to maintain its domineering influence on all the same organizations started by British initiation, as Murray Rothbard notes.  The Rockefellers spent absurd amounts of money and resources in an attempt to maintain Western-global control.  But they were unable to get to comfortable.  Into this Cold War context, came the new power group: the neoconservatives.
The power elite in America since the rise of the neocons has largely been a struggle between the Old Establishment (the Rockefeller heirs of the Fabian days) and the new “Sun belt Cowboys” (the neocons) that rose to power with the oil booms in Texas and the American southwest.  While the Establishment was full of old money and had for decades found friends in both political parties (forever ensuring their ultimate victory— not [sic] matter who was elected), the neocons swept in to government positions when Ronald Reagan promised to empty the Executive branch of the Old Rockefeller “Trilateralist” (another globalist organization) influence.  But Reagan only succeeded in getting half the Establishment out.  And into the void to fill the other half came the neocons parading into power.
And it's those neocons and their political heirs who are now battling Trump for the GOP nomination (link, link). Read the rest of C. Jay's analysis here.

September 08, 2015

The Law Is Force

Douglas Wilson:
When crowds are calling for sacrifice, you can depend upon it: they are looking for the sacrifice of somebody else. Get in the right position early, man.

This is why, for Christians, all coercion is such a big deal. Simple coercion, absent direct instruction from Scripture, is a big sin; manipulative coercion, absent clear instruction from Scripture, is also a big sin. . . . But the carnal heart turns naturally to making other people do things. This is why we must see the levy, or the referendum, or the law, or the conscription, or whatever it is, and follow it all the way out to the end of the process. When you don't do what they say, men with guns show up at your house. Now this is quite proper when it is the house of a murderer or a rapist of an IRS man from Cincinnati. But suppose it is just a regular guy trying to make a living who had a duck land in a puddle enough times for his land to be declared a wetland? They still show up with guns. [1]

1. Wilson, Douglas. Writers to Read: Nine Names That Belong on Your Bookshelf (Crossway, 2015), pp. 22-23.

September 07, 2015

The Problem with Protectionism

What is protectionism? Protectionism is defined by the Concise Oxford English Dictionary as "the theory or practice of shielding a country’s domestic industries from foreign competition by taxing imports." Protectionism is the opposite of free trade (and when I say free trade, I don't mean the kind of cronyism often promoted by politicians under that name).

Protectionism (the concept if not the term) has been in the news lately because it, along with immigration reform, is one of two big planks of presidential candidate Donald Trump's platform. Self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders is also a protectionist.
The big problem with protectionism isn't that it is economically harmful (though it is). The big problem is that it is immoral.

Brian Jacobson: 
[T]he blockades, sanctions, propaganda, and UN resolutions encourage us to hate our international neighbor and engender ignorance and suppress any mercy we might have for other image bearers of God. . . . any law against free-trade is a violation of scripture’s command “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:31) and that “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets,” (Matt 7:12). In fact God explicitly forbid having one set of laws for the native and another for the strangers who sojourn among you (Ex. 12:49) which is exactly what tariffs are. It frankly doesn’t even matter whether free-trade is “good” or “bad” for the U.S. or if China is “killing” us in trade. Tariffs are simply a violation of the eighth commandment; stealing from your international neighbor. . . . Complaining on Facebook about Mexicans, Chinese, and other poor countries getting job is not just bad economics its hatred for your neighbor, and its sin.
Read the rest here.

September 04, 2015

Andrew Napolitano on Immigration

Andrew Napolitano:
The tone of the debate over the nation’s immigration laws has taken an ugly turn as some office-seekers offer solutions to problems that don’t exist.

The natural rights of all persons consist of areas of human behavior for which we do not need and will not accept the need for a government permission slip.

We all expect that the government will leave us alone when we think, speak, publish, worship, defend ourselves, enter our homes, choose our mates or travel. The list of natural rights is endless.

We expect this not because we are Americans, but because we are persons and these rights are integral to our nature. We expect this in America because the Constitution was written to restrain the government from interfering with natural rights. . . . The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution underscore the truism that all persons have the same natural rights, irrespective of where their mothers were when they delivered them. The right to travel is a natural right . . . 
Read the rest here.

September 03, 2015

Various and Sundry

  • The other GOP presidential candidates now seem to be competing with Donald Trump to see who can be the biggest demagogue. Case in point: Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (link).
  • Ron Paul calls Donald Trump a dangerous authoritarian (link). Trump's a real wild card. There are some obvious and definite downsides to a Trump presidency. On the other hand, a Washington outsider like Trump in the White House is an intriging prospect. This is Trump's one real upside compared to the other candidates. 
  • More on the Hugo awards and the left's war on common sense. Robert Tracinski writes, "The only way [the left] can win is to make everyone else lose." (link)
  • Christian philosopher Douglas Groothuis explains the moral case against minimum wage laws: "The minimum wage represents a breach in the social contract as one party (employee) enlists the help of a bully with a big stick (the government) to force the other party (employer) to accept their terms (higher wages). This means that employers are being compelled against their will to abide by a labor contract they don’t agree with." (link)
  • It seems most Christians are either liberal pacifists or neo-conservative warmongers. Principled advocates of defensive and limited warfare are few and far between. Historian Thomas Kidd reflects on this phenomenon in his article Why Aren't Calvinists Pacifists? (link).
  • Rand Paul is the only presidential candidate speaking out against the NSA's unconstitutional and immoral domestic surveillance program (link).
  • The Calvinist and neo-traditionalist (i. e. Arminian/Semi-Pelagian) wings of the SBC are starting to come together in opposition to the Cooperative Program (link).
  • Grant Phillips explains crony capitalism (link). Don't blame the free market. Blame big government.
  • Joe Carter asks why Black and Hispanic Evangelicals are more likely to believe the Prosperity Gospel (link). The data may be clear, but the answer isn't. 
  • Apparently, the majority of divorces are initiated by women. Wintery Knight offers a few thoughts (link). 
  • Bernie Sanders claims to be a socialist. He's actually more of a fascist, technically speaking (link). Either way, he's bad news. 
  • Capitalism is responsible for economic inequality, but not in the way you think. It decreases inequality within the nations that adopt it, while inequality between capitalistic and non-capitalistic nations increases (link).

September 01, 2015

The False Gospel of Collectivism

Edmund Opitz:
Collectivism, in its many varieties, is the great secular faith of our time. It is a faith in the efficacy of political action to accomplish social ends far beyond the capacity of uncoerced men and women in voluntary action. At one end of the scale it is a deification of Caesar; at the other it is a cynical, crafty means used by some to subject others to their will. In the modern world men have been found willing to suffer and die for this false faith. But for each willing martyr, hundreds have perished as unwilling victims of the political manias of our time, raw material for the political experiments of other people.
Many men are collectivists without being aware of it because collectivism seems to be taken into one's pores from the ideological fog of our times. Most men argue only about the degree of collectivism they are willing to embrace, few are willing to eject every trace of it from their own thinking. Opposition to collectivism starts only when it dawns upon an individual that he has enough trouble running his own life and being a steward of his own energy, and that he has no mandate from society or from God to run another's life against that person's will. Men are creatures of God, not creatures of other men. [1]

1. Opitz, Edmund. The Libertarian Theology of Freedom (Hallberg, 1999), pp. 102-103.

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